Culture

Aussie-based South Asian dance troupe gets the ultimate tick of approval from Lilly Singh

Meet the Bindi Bosses: Ragavi Ragavan, Shyamla Eswaran and Jes SubbImage.
Meet the Bindi Bosses: Ragavi Ragavan, Shyamla Eswaran and Jes Subba. Image. Source: Supplied/Andres Marin

With years of award-winning dance experience amongst the three of them, Shyamla Eswaran, Ragavi Ragavan and Jes Subba were destined to make waves when they recently formed dance troupe, Bindi Bosses.

But little did these South Asian women realise that their debut video to Lilly Singh’s hit ‘If Bollywood Songs Were Rap’, would actually be publicly endorsed by the social media sensation herself.

After being shared by Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, the energetic Bindi Boss choreography (a blend Semi-Classical Kuchipudi, Bollywood, Hip Hop and Afro/Dancehall fusion)  caught the eye of iiSuperwomanii who gave the Australian-based group a massive Instagram shoutout.

“I felt excitement, shock and awe at the power of social media,” Bindi Bosses’ Artistic Director & Dance Artist, Shyamla, tells Draw Your Box.

“You hear about things going ‘viral’ but never think it will happen to you and don’t quite understand how it happens. To be shared by a Bollywood Icon AND to have our work publicly appreciated by the author of the song is more than we ever hoped for,” she continues.

Image Source: Supplied/Andres Marin

Her group member Ragavi shares a similar sentiment, admitting, “I really thought I was dreaming, and quite honestly, it still feels surreal.

“We were all so nervous putting this out there, and I love that we’re getting recognition from powerhouses on the other side of the world. It gives me confidence that we’re doing something right.”

Speaking of doing the right thing, the formation of Bindi Bosses was no accident, with all three dancers deciding to combine their technical skills to create a movement that helps inspire other South Asian women.

“The overall message we wanted to convey is that we, as South Asian women, want to be in control of our own narrative,” explains Shyamla, referring to this debut video in particular. “We should have the right and freedom to make our own choices and deserve to have those choices respected.

“The support we’ve received from the global South Asian community has also been super encouraging. We are still getting tagged, reposted and followed by brown people around the world. There’s a humbling sense of solidarity and camaraderie in that and in Brown Queens rising together.”

View this post on Instagram

I love Bollywood and I love rap music, so I decided to collide both worlds and remake one of my favorite filmi songs into a rap anthem. Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai is a CLASSIC and so I wanted to pair it with some modern wisdom I’ve gained over the years. Growing up I was often taught a “right” and “wrong” way to be a woman. I was told exposing your body too much isn’t good, fair skin is the goal, having a tummy isn’t beautiful and subconsciously that other people could/would and should make judgements about you. I believed all of this for some time in my life because I didn’t know another way. As I’ve grown up, I’ve proactively made an effort to unlearn a lot of these things and this song represents that growth in a nutshell. Shout outs to all my sisters who love to cover up and to those who love to show it all. Shout outs to my sisters who enjoy reading books, cooking and/or flexing on a pole. Shout outs to my light, dark and everything in between sisters. Shout outs to all my sisters with PHAT stretch marks. Shout outs to my working women and stay at home moms. It’s YOUR choice. Regardless of all the things we’ve been taught and told, you’re beautiful and deserve respect. Tag a sister you love and let her know she’s AMAZING. •••• For those of you wondering, yes this is a repost. A few weeks ago I posted this video but the publisher took it down because it featured a sample from Choli. I was devastated because I believe in the message of this song and so I begged and pleaded to let it slide, but legally that’s not my decision to make and I respect that. Having said that, I found it important to remake the instrumental and try my best to give the song flavour again. So here is my alternate remake, inspired by Choli Ke Peeche Kya hai. I hope it inspires you just the same. Thank you @durranibros or making this happen. And thank you all for sharing the love x

A post shared by Lilly Singh (@iisuperwomanii) on

View this post on Instagram

This is the incredible team of artists behind our debut video that's just gone viral thanks to @bollyshake (129,105 views and counting). Thank you to all the Brown Queens around the world for sharing and appreciating including @sonamkapoor and @iisuperwomanii herself! We can't thank you all enough for spreading this message about women's rights, body positivity, consent, self-love and empowerment. @bindibosses will keep striving to use Urban Indian Fusion Dance/Performance Art as a tool to spark positive change and meaningful discussion on issues that matter most to the communities and backgrounds we hail from. Each artist is accomplished as an individual and you can follow us through our Insta handles below or on the photo tags above ↕️. Stay tuned because we are just getting started… ♀️💪🏾 • Dancers: @shyamladance @badddmachine @jes_subba • Video & Edit: @andresmarinphotography • Styling: @poornima_23 • Sarees: @meerabypoornimasharma • Bindi & Body Henna Art: @mongkee_henna by @manjurah • Song/Artist: "If Bollywood Songs Were Rap" featuring Choli Ke Peeche sample @iisuperwomanii • Artistic Director/Choreographer: @shyamladance

A post shared by B I N D I 🔴 B O S S E S (@bindibosses) on

So, what’s next for these superstars?

“Bindi Bosses has been created to provide a platform for South Asian Artists to perform and collaborate in unique ways with other artists…so get in touch!” says Shyamla.

“We run monthly workshops that provide a safe, inclusive, judgement-free space to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and to explore movement. The best way to get involved is to come to a workshop, share space and dance with us and experience what we are all about for yourself. The plan is to keep experimenting, creating and pushing boundaries so follow us on Instagram because we are just getting started!”

You can follow Bindi Bosses on Instagram here.

Watch the video below:

  • Poornima Sharma – Stylist and owner of Meera by Poornima Sharma
  • Manjurah from Mongkee Henna – Bindi & Henna Artist
  • Andres Marin – Videographer/Photographer/Video Editor

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